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Religious representatives meet minister to support gay marriage

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  1. Fine and dandy.

    Nce that they are supporting equality.

    But we must not forget that civil marriage has NOTHING to do with religion. And we cannot let these kindly cults muddy the water by giving the impression that marriage is somehow a religious institution.

    1. @dAVID

      I dont believe that is what the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism are trying to say …

      I believe they are saying that there are people within their organisations who are gay and would value a religious aspect to their marriage and these organisations would like to have the opportunity to support those gay people who would value a religious context to their marriage …

      I see nothing in what they say trying to promulgate a sense that civil marriage should be dictated to by their organisations …

      I believe they would encourage equal marriage in a civil context, in the same way that they wish to be able to offer equal marriage within their organisations …

      Now personally, I think thats a very balanced and reasonable point of view – its not how I would choose to resolve the current problems. I would choose to have all marriages civil, with separate or bolt on religious ceremonies for those that feel they would find some value in such a ceremony.

      1. concernedresidentE3 2 Nov 2011, 1:42pm

        actually in each case the Quakers, Unitarians and Reformed Jews had marriage services for gay members preior to 2005. These had no legal standing but were fairly widely celebrated (at least in the Quakers, my own denomination). The very nasty sting in the tail of the ciivil partnership legislation is that it banned us from having these celebrations. We have therefore been fighting to remedy that ever since.

      2. Stu …LF has already stated last week in parliament that religious org are one of the groups shaping the consultation on CIVIL marriages for gay people. This is worrying since we’ve been told that religious marriages are not on the cards. In what way can relgioous org shape the consultation?

        1. @John

          I would have to say I would be speculating to answer that question, and it may be better directed to LF

          However, I would rather the government did one of two things with this consultations:

          a) reflect on the fact that Scotland are considering extending religious same sex marriage rights to those religious organisations that wish to engage with them, and consider a similar approach in England


          b) remove the rights from all religious groups to register civil marriages whether same sex or opposite sex, so that ALL marriages are civil – then those couples seeking a religious element in their wedding celebration can either seek a separate religious ceremony or a ‘bolt on’ to the civil celebration.

          To my mind, either of these methods would achieve a better sense of equality – although my preference would be for b

          Surely a consultation, will also consider other suggestions made to it, and thus the government legislation be informed from the views that they receive …

    2. Spanner1960 2 Nov 2011, 4:31pm

      I am totally in agreement with you David.
      We need to have same-sex marriage legalised, scrap civil partnerships and then we can look at the religious aspect.

      1. @Spanner1960

        I would prefer to go even further than that I would like to scrap any religious organisations ability to register civil marriage – thus only a registrar could conduct the civil process to register the marriage legally.

        The any religious organisation could conduct whatever ceremony they and the couple involved felt was appropriate for them as a bolt on or separate ceremony.

        I would keep CPs – but make them available to opposite sex couples, purely because there are some people who desire that option (not a choice I personally would make, but nonetheless a valid choice).

  2. In theory, the opinion of religion should have no say in the law of the land. But by taking this action they completely de-bunk any claim by other sects/denominations that homophobia is mandatory or required by their faith. Now, I am quite happy to let religions attack one another and eat their own if they leave the rest of us out of it, but I cannot deny that this is a strong and positive move on their behalf.

    1. @Valksy

      Just on your theoretical proposition …

      (My view on equal marriage is clear – marriage should be equal whether same sex or opposite sex – ideally all civil (with religious ceremonies as a separate or bolt on option for those who value it)).

      … Nonetheless, the government has launched a consultation exercise to which they have invited any individual or any organisation that feels they have a view to contribute to that consultation …

      Do you feel the consultation should have excluded religious groups?

      How, legally, would the government be able to do this?

      Whilst I think that marriage should be civil and not dominated by religiosity; I also passionately believe in democracy and transparency including in consultations. Surely religious individuals and organisations should be able to contribute their views (whether we agree with them or not). It is for the politicians to weigh the integrity of each and every contribution and then make decisions.

      1. Honestly, I have no particular interest in compelling religions to perform ceremonies or allow the use of their premises if it is against their dogma. But as the UK is not a theocracy, and as religions cannot even agree amongst themselves what their dogma actually is or means, I think that they should be excluded from the law making process. And I admit, that is a very much watered down opinion of what I actually think of religion and its place in society.

        1. These denominations do not want to be compelled – they want to be enabled to carry out religious same sex marriages …

          They are asking for marriage of all types to be permitted …

          Now, I say again, its not how I would resolve the equal marriage issue, if I was defining a system that was equal and fair – but I can see it is reasonable that if we accept churches can conduct weddings for opposite sex couples, those that are prepared to should be able to do the same (and not prohibited by law as was the case with CPs) from doing so …

          To then twist that and say these particular denominations wish to dictate to the government on marriage is false and disingenuous. If we as LGBT people are going to be taken seriously, we have to approach government, media and other organisations (whether we share their views or not) with honesty and transparency and not prejudice … whether those other bodies adopt similar principles or not … we need to be seen to have integrity …

        2. @Valksy

          So you are proposing that the government consultation should be seen as biased and face challenge for illegality under the equality act … and also be undemocratic ..

          If Stonewall, MCC and THT etc can contribute to the government consultation … if individual LGBT people can respond to the government consultation … then, in the interests of natural justice, democracy and compliance with the equality act – then religious individuals and organisations should be entitled to contribute to the consultation …

          You set a very dangerous precedent if you bar certain organisations and individuals from consultation because they hold a particular philosophical or ideological viewpoint …

          Such exclusions have led to further reactionary and divisive policies which Britain has battled militarily to prevent …

          1. Until a religion is universally adopted in the UK, and until the dogma of that religion is universally agreed upon, then the views of religion on the law of the land are not relevant. There is nothing behind it but opinion and unless we plan on asking the opinions of all (and the concept of “tyranny of the masses” means that we don’t do that) then religion has no weight. I’m sorry, but the opinion of a Bishop or a Rabbi are of no more relevance and carry no more influence than the opinion of someone who loves Star Trek. Neither of them can prove that they are anything more than fiction.

          2. @Valksy

            So why should a religious organisation be prevented from taking part in a democratic government consultation, yet Stonewall be permitted?

            Why do you think the government should breach the Equalities Act in this manner?

            Why do you not want religious organisations that are pro same sex marriages to have a voice?

            Why do you want to censor them?

            I submit, its because you are bigoted through religiophobia …

            Personally, I despise homophobes because of their bigotry – and your bigotry is no better …

          3. This has nothing to do with the UK not being a theocracy …

            The UK is not a theocracy and nor should it be

            I would fight passionately to prevent that being the case, as it would be a dangerous slope that the country would be pursuing

            That said, censoring comment from organisations is immoral, bigoted, and arrogant

      2. I believe that a cult’s position on civil marriage equality is no more worthy of consultation than the position of the British Stamp Collectors opinion on civil marriage equality.

        Civil marriage is a secular institution.

        A religious cult’s opinion on civil marriage equality is entirely irrelevant.

        1. Given that “cults” (not provocative language) are already empowered to marry people, is it not reasonable to listen to their views on changing marriage rules …

          If not,. you set a very dangerous precedent of exclusion from influence in legislation …

          Dangerous and worryingly biased and divisive decisions in limiting democracy have been manipulated in the past to move a democracy towards various view points of political (and religious) ideologies. It is imperative that the impartiality of UK legislation is not diluted by blocking individuals or organisations from participating in democratic consultations.

          1. correction – note provocative language

        2. Their opinions are their own and deserve to be heard and respected the same as anyone else. You may argue that religions themselves should be ignored as their opinions are irrelevant but the individual members of that religion are citizens of this country the same as anyone else so they do deserve to have their opinions heard. Regardless of where their opinions come from

          1. But that assumes that we have a direct democracy where everyone’s opinion is heard on every matter. And that just isn’t the case. Opinions are being sought, in this committee stages, based on a dogma that is not universally understood, accepted or agreed upon – which grants it more weight and authority than the opinion of ordinary Joe or Jane citizen. I haven’t been asked to meet the minister. Have you?

          2. @Valksy

            No, it assumes that every person in this country who wants to, and every organisation that wants to – can submit their views to this consultation.

            Making some organisations or individuals prohibited from taking part is biased and unfair and wholly undemocratic.

            Everyone has a right to make their voice heard. This is an open consultation. Whether any weight is put on all of the contributions is for the government to decide, but there is a right to have your say.

            This has nothing to do with effectiveness of parliamentary democracy or history of referendums in the UK.

            If we did ban them from this consultation, would we then ban them from all consultations, would we then ban religious people from voting, should they to mark them out all wear green crosses on their lapels – its a slippery slope once you begin restricting democracy based on belief, race etc

          3. @Valksy

            I havent been asked to meet the minister, no …

            But then I havent sought an invitation – have you?

            What I have done is written to the minister with my views and explained why I feel the way I do …

      3. Spanner1960 2 Nov 2011, 4:38pm

        @Stu: I fully understand your reasons for wanting the churches involved, but many of them have this fanciful notion that marriage is purely a religious concept and they retain unreserved rights as to it’s use.

        Let’s be honest, the “church” people involved here are the theological equivalent of the Green party or some piffling little independent. They have no more say in the running of Britain’s churches than the BNP have of determining our politics; it’s only when the Anglicans, Catholics and the likes of those get involved that we shall have a real debate.

        1. @Spanner1960

          I hope you do get my reasons for believing it is right that churches are able to be involved in the consultation.

          I certainly do not think churches (or any religious bodies) should be able to dictate on civil marriage (or any other civil law for that matter).

          I believe they have a right to have their voice heard, even if I vehemently disagree with their opinion. I believe LGBT religious people have a right to be treated with the same value as other LGBT people or other religious people. I believe passionately that one does not secure equality but trampling on others equality. I believe passionately that in a real democracy no one is prevented from participating in consultations, discussions, debates etc provided they show responsibility whilst they engage in these forums.

          I believe the LGBT cause is profoundly damaged by those who denigrate and offend other minority groups (and there have been examples of racism, sexism and religiophobia on PN).

        2. @Spanner1960

          That said I do accept that some religious organisations and individuals either are bigoted towards LGBT people or have unreasonable views about various subjects eg marriage. Those people and those organisations should be challenged, exposed and confronted rather than abused, ridiculed and offended. If we confront then it is the religious bigots who are undermined. If we retaliate with offensive language, ridicule etc – then we are no better than the bigots that target us.

          To an extent if you were to compare religious groupings to political parties, then its possible that you would relate those groups discussed in this article to the Greens or UKIP. That said, both of those parties have influenced the policies of all three major parties and the same could be true of these churches.

          I am disgusted and ashamed that LGBT people feel it is acceptable to engage in such attacks on other minority groups.

    2. concerned resident of E3 3 Nov 2011, 6:20am

      remember that the Quakers and the MCC have actually been agitating in favour of equal marriage for a good long time now and latterly the Unitarians, Reformed Jews and Methodists have come onside.Not all religious contributions are negative.

      And those that are negative, help us define the limits and safeguards that would allow the reform to go through in such a way that it did not unnecessarily impinge on the internal politics of the anglican and catholic churches.

  3. I suspect the pressures that the Coalition Government are under currently are coming from the two major cults. Since they have NO intention of recognising, supporting or officiating at same-sex civil marriages, then there is no need for them to be involved in any part of the consultation. This should have been made clear from the outset. The government already knew their position before there was any mention of a consultation. If they have nothing positive to contribute, then exclude them and then there wouldn’t be any pressure to deal with. Why should a religious belief be allowed to trample on what is purely a civil secular matter without any involvement of religion? I wish the government would stop kow-towing to these bigots who should be minding their own business and acting like real christians by doing what Jesus Christ said by selling all they have and giving to the poor if they want to be a follower. None of them practice what he preached and the last time I read the new testament, there was no condemnation of gay people.

  4. Stu, I see no difficulty in trying to implement civil marriage equality? There was no difficulty among the 10 countries that have already legislated for it. It’s strictly a civil matter and all that was done to implement it was after debate, the marriage laws in those countries were changed to indicate that civil marriage is now “gender neutral” with specific emphasis that no religious denomination would be compelled to acknowledge or recognise them. Simple!

    1. @Robert

      I perfectly agree that it is possible to introduce civil marriage relatively easily (the most difficult issue being the passage of time as parliament’s wheels spin).

      I entirely endorse equal civil marriage as the goal we wish to have. I would go further and remove all marriages from all religious organisations. Then those people (same or opposite sex couples) who felt they would benefit from a religious ceremony could either have a separate religious ceremony or a bolt on ceremony. I can not see HMG being so progressive to propose this.

      I note that a number of religious organisations wish to endorse and carry out same sex marriages – if we are not going to remove all marriages from religious groups, then we must endorse and encourage this, otherwise LGBT people remain unequal. I do not think we should force religious groups to perform same sex marriages, but we should enable those who wish to (if we do not remove the power to marry from a civil perspective from them).

      1. No. You are coming from a position that religious marriage is the default and everything else must conform to that notion. To say that religion owns marriage is probably only true is you worship Sumerian sun gods, or carry your bride across the threshold while praising Aphrodite. It does not belong to christianity and never has and we do not need to wipe the slate clean and call it “civil marriage.”

        1. @Valksy

          Please do not presume what I am saying, if there is a lack of clarity – please ask me to elucidate … but do not put words in my mouth …

          I do not come from a position that religious marriage either is or should be the norm. That, personally to me is an anathema to democracy and honest, liberal secular society – which I seek.

          I do recognise that there are religious marriages currently in the UK and thus any change in the law has to reflect upon the current state of play. For two reasons the religious groups and individuals should be able to voice their concerns about marriage in this consultations (whether pro or anti equal marriage) i) democratic integrity and ii) they have a clear current interest. That said, as I have said numerous times on these threads (including several times today) but you appear to ignore – my preferred option would be to remove the right to marry any couple whether same or opposite sex in a church, and where the couple wished a religious …

        2. … ceremony this should be either a separate event or a bolt on to the civil ceremony. Registration of marriages should be a completely civil affair, I believe.

          However, this is about more than how marriage is conducted. That is part of the consultation.

          This is also about democracy and letting people have their say – whether individually or organisationally. You seem keen to restrict the rights and strangle democracy by preventing some individuals and some organisations from taking part. That sounds like the beginning of religious apartheid to me and I hope it never ever happens in the UK.

          1. Spanner1960 3 Nov 2011, 7:34am

            I think removing marriages officially from religious institutions is a one massive step too far. Much that I disapprove of many churches attitudes, marriage is something that churches have done for many years, and have worked alongside secular ceremonies for a long time quite happily. May I also point out you can also get legally married in a mosque, temple or synagogue as well as other places of worship, and captains of ships were also once allowed to perform the ceremony.

            My point is, as long as the formalities are observed and the “bit of paper” issued correctly, I see no reason why anybody cannot register a marriage ceremony so that it confers the legal status on the couple. Whether or not some people choose to hold ceremonies for LGBT people or not should be a matter of preference and left to them to decide.

            If you were to remove civil marriage officially from religious institutions, you would have a massive fight on your hands, and all it would do is put LGBT people in a very dim light and turn the state against the church; remember, that’s what started our own civil war. Let sleeping dogs lie.

          2. @Spanner1960

            I accept it would be very difficult to remove the ability of religious groups to conduct marriages and register them.

            There would be objections from religious and non religious people and whilst the aim of doing so is to provide clear and undeniable fairness – I suspect this is not how it would be perceived.

            Whilst, it would be my preference – I suspect that it would not be an option many in the UK would be happy to endorse, whether out of tradition, desire to marry in church (regardless of religious affiliation or not), religious reasons or whatever reason.

            I agree that for that reason, we must try to ensure that there is equal civil marriage and the ability for those religious groups who feel able to, to offer equal marriage to same and opposite sex couples.

  5. Cupid Stunt 2 Nov 2011, 12:32pm

    Where are the methodists in this?

    1. Last I heard, they endorsed CPs and would welcome the ability on a case by case basis to celebrate them in their churches. I do not believe they have a policy on same sex marriage

  6. The meeting was probably an opportunity for them to point out the big flaw in the government’s plans. The Scottish government plans in introduce full marriage equality for both civil and religious marriages, but the governments of England and Wales plan to only implement partial marriage equality (civil only) leaving all of these relious organisations that want legal recognition for the same sex marriages they perform left out in the cold.

    Please write to Lynne Featherstone now and demand full equality for England and Wales. Otherwise we will have a ridiculous situation with religious gay couples having to travel to Scotland to marry.

  7. Stu, no, I concur We’re not going to see all marriages going the “civil” route as it does in France and elsewhere. That said, all that needs to be done in regard to same-sex civil marriage is to amend the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973 by simply stating that civil marriage shall be gender neutral as did all of the 10 countries that now allow it. It doesn’t even need brand new legislation to do it since the act applies to all married couples anyway or those intending to marry. CPs on the other hand did require separate legislation and a new law because they are separate from marriage and slightly different.

    1. My understanding is that when there is a significant change in impact of a statute that it is regarded as preferable to have fresh legislation. In the event of a significant number of statutory instruments having been issued on one particular Act of parliament then fresh legislation is a legal requirement.

      I am happy to be corrected and educated, but that is my recollection from my A level politics and law studies at university.

      Am open to being pointed in the direction of information that demonstrates I am either factually wrong or out of date

  8. GingerlyColors 3 Nov 2011, 3:17am

    Yet again it shows that religion does not necessarily equal homophobia. It also should be remembered that in our secular society that marriage is not just a religious institution. Straight couples have celebrated their 50+ anniversaries after getting married in a registrar office (including my parents!). Also thanks to a change in the law in the mid-90’s it is possible to get married almost anywhere such as at a pub or in a stately home so even if you can’t marry in a church there are plenty of options.

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